renaissance and the scientific revolution

12 May

The  term  Renaissance  designates  the rebirth  of the arts  and  sciences that  accompanied   the  complex  and  often  painful  economic,  social, political,  and  intellectual  transformations that  took  place  in Europe between  about  1300 and  1650. The  Renaissance  was  a  new  age  of exploration of the word,  the  world,  the  mind,  and  the human  body. The Renaissance  era may have ultimately  transformed European cul- ture in a profound and permanent way that  led to the modern  world, but it was also a period  in which superstition, mysticism, intolerance, and  epidemic  disease  flourished.  During  this  period,  Europe  experi- enced  the  disintegration of  medieval  economic,  social,  and  religious patterns, the expansion of commerce, cities, and trade,  and the growth of  the  modern  state.  While  such  a  profound transformation  might seem to imply a sharp  break  with the past,  in many ways the Renais- sance was the natural  culmination  of the Middle  Ages. Scholars  have argued  that  the  Renaissance  was not  yet an  age of individualism,  as indicated  by  the  importance  of  kinship  ties  and  the  growth  of  re- ligious  and  professional  associations.  For  the  most  part,  towns  and cities were urban  islands  surrounded by traditional rural  life. More- over,  medievalists  have  argued  that  the  outlines  of  modern  society were  already  being  formed  between  the  late  tenth  century  and  the early thirteenth.

As an era of scientific and philosophical  interest, if not therapeutic advances, the Renaissance  is a time of special importance for medicine. The death rate circa 1500 was about three times the present level, and life expectancy was perhaps  half that  of modern  Europe.  War, famine, and epidemic disease appeared  so often that fears of the imminent end of the world  were widespread.  However,  the  exact  relationship  between  the Renaissance  and the renaissance  of medicine is extremely complicated. It is possible to speak of a long medical renaissance  that  began in the twelfth century,  a distinct medical renaissance  of the sixteenth century, and a medical revolution  of the seventeenth  century.

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